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Blog>Guides>Guide to Continuing Medical Education in 2024 and What It Means for You

Guide to Continuing Medical Education in 2024 and What It Means for You

Article index


  • What continuing medical education (CME) is
  • Why CME is important in the medical field
  • Different types of CME and when they’re needed
  • How CME can benefit you


If you have a career in health care, it can feel like your work never ends. There’s so much you have to know to be a medical assistant, nurse, or doctor. Getting through medical school or your health care training is a huge accomplishment. But the industry doesn’t just stand still after you finish your education.

New medical treatment options and technologies are in constant development. So how do you stay up to date with everything going on in your industry? Continuing medical education (CME) helps you stay on top of what’s going on in your field of expertise.

In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about CME. We’ll tell you what it is, why it’s important, who needs it, and how it can benefit you.

Why Is Continuing Education Important in Medical Work?

Without continuing education, all you would be familiar with as a health care professional would be the things that were around when you finished your training. CME helps you assimilate new techniques and inventions into your knowledge base and skill set.

Researchers are always looking for ways to improve patient care and save lives, so it’s essential that you stay up to date with all the new developments in your industry. If you’re not, then you’re simply not giving your patients the optimal level of primary care they deserve.

Is Medical Continuing Education Mandatory?

As a medical worker, the amount of CME you need to complete will depend on a few factors, like your job title and the state you work in. There’s CME for doctors, dentists, nurses, and allied health professionals (including health workers like dental hygienists, medical assistants, physical therapists, and radiographers).

Medical students in hallway.

To keep their licenses and certifications, medical workers need to take a certain amount of CME each year. Some states require a large amount of CME, while a few don’t require any at all. For example, doctors in Michigan need to complete 150 hours of CME every three years to keep their license, while doctors in Colorado are not required by law to complete any (aside from physicians who prescribe opioids).

You can find the medical requirements for your state on the American Medical Association (AMA) website. The site also has resources that can help you claim your credits.

Types of Medical Continuing Education

There are several kinds of CME for different jobs in medicine and multiple ways you can earn your CME. You can get CME credits by taking online courses, listening to webinars, reading publications, or even attending conferences and events.

CME can be a requirement for maintaining a job or certification in the medical industry. Below are a few jobs in medicine and the top certifications they might have:

  • Clinicians might need CME to maintain certification to perform surgery, work in a field like gynecology, or practice family medicine.
  • A nurse might need CME to maintain certification as an oncology-certified nurse (OCN) or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
  • A physician’s assistant might need CME to maintain certification to administer emergency medicine, provide basic life support, or be a certified medical administrative assistant (CMAA).

There are two categories of credits for medical professionals offered by the AMA and four credit categories offered by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Osteopathic treatment focuses on improving the health of the entire body to solve medical issues.

You can get AMA Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 Credits or AMA PRA Category 2 Credits from the AMA. Both category credits count toward your PRA. You can apply for your PRA by filling out a form or applying online.

  • You’ll claim and keep track of your own AMA PRA Category 2 Credits. You can claim them for dialogues with other medical experts, preceptorships (training and managing physicians during practice), and reading educational or medical writings.

From the AOA, you can receive 1-A, 1-B, 2-A, or 2-B credits. Category 1 is for osteopathic CME, while Category 2 is for allopathic CME, which includes treating health issues with medicine, operations, or radiation. The AOA website has resources for reporting CME credits that are not automatically reported.

  • The AOA or a recognized group must approve Providers of AOA Category 1-A credits. You can receive them for attending live educational activities, like in-person courses, examinations from certifying boards, and case presentations.
  • You can get AOA Category 1-B credits for preceptorships, watching online educational material, or reading publications.
  • You can get AOA Category 2-A credits for attending live activities for allopathic medicine, like training events in non-osteopathic medicine, clinical presentations, and interactive online CME courses.
  • You can get AOA Category 2-B credits for reading medical journals, studying non-osteopathic medicine at home, or visiting scientific exhibits.

A few resources to find CME opportunities are the AMA website, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) website, or the medical association website for your state.

How Continuing Education Benefits Your Medical Career

CME does more than just satisfy your educational needs and helps you maintain certifications — it also facilitates your career growth. The more training you have in your industry, the better you’ll be able to treat patients, manage teams, and handle tricky situations.

Medical students in class.

Completing CME can also make you more valuable to employers. If you apply for the PRA with commendation instead of the standard PRA, employers will see that you’ve gone beyond the minimum AMA PRA credits required to get the standard PRA. Ultimately, this shows you’re a dedicated and knowledgeable medical professional who deserves a higher salary. The PRA with commendation requires you to get at least 90 AMA PRA credits in a year.

How to Include Medical Continuing Education on Your Resume

List your CME in the education or professional development section of your resume. It should come after your resume summary and work experience. If you’ve had an extensive amount of CME, it’s okay to omit all but the most valuable training from your resume and elaborate on your education in your cover letter.

Discover Top Medical Jobs on Joblist

To consistently offer the best possible care, medical professionals need to learn new things about their industry constantly. If you want to work in the field, lifelong learning is a vital part of the job. CME keeps you aware of new medical concepts, helps you sharpen your skills, and makes you look more impressive to management.

If you’re trying to find a job in the medical field, check out Joblist’s quiz page. After you answer a few short questions, we’ll analyze your work experience, abilities, and interests to show the best-curated job openings for you.

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